iPhones are not as privacy-focused as Apple claims, researchers point out
Researchers claim that Apple can map a user's App Store browsing habits via a DSID, though it remains unclear how the company treats this data.
- Apple's forum notes that it collects system information to "improve and develop its products and services".
- However, the company claims that it keep this data anonymous.
- Researchers say that Apple can track this data DSID.
By Abhik Sengupta: Two iOS developers and researchers are challenging Apple over its security practices. According to a series of tweets by Mysk, Apple tracks users' activity on Apple App Store on iPhones through 'Directory Services Identifier' or DSLD. Researchers point out that Apple's own Device Analytics and Privacy forum states the company does not collect information that identifies you personally. The DSID is seemingly associated with a user's name, email, and any data linked to the iCloud account.
In other words, researchers claim that Apple can map a user's App Store browsing habits via the DSID, though it remains unclear how the company treats the so-called personal data. Apple's forum clarifies that it collects system information to "improve and develop its products and services" through its first-party apps and virtual assistant Siri. The company offers the option to review this information by heading to Settings > Privacy and security > Analytics and improvements > Analytics data. Users even have the option to stop the company from sending Analytics data. However, the research points out that despite these measures, Apple can (or probably does) track specific user activities on the iPhone's App Store via DSID.
In a tweet, Mysk explains, "This means that your detailed behaviour when browsing apps on the App Store is sent to Apple and contains the ID needed to link the data to you. We showed the extensive details that the App Store sends to Apple in this video". The research team even adds that there's no way to hide the DSID from Apple, and the analytics data is directly linked to you.
Gizmodo was the first to report this back earlier this month with researchers from Mysk. The report claims that "Apple is facing a class action lawsuit for allegedly harvesting iPhone user data even when the company's own privacy settings promise not to".
Interestingly, the same researchers claimed that Apple is tracking users' App Store activities via a JSON file. The company has reportedly been tracking App store activities since Apple rolled out iOS 14.6 in May 2021. Apple is yet to address these allegations.